by Thomas Day

Semper Buff
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Steven Sheals, 38, and his passenger, Jennifer Smith, 30, were thrown from Sheals’ motorcycle when he failed to negotiate a curve and ran into a ditch. The pair were both naked. Sheals is an 18-year veteran and an explosive ordnance disposal tech stationed in North Carolina. Smith managed to walk 3/10ths of a mile with a broken arm and leg. It took her about two hours to find someone to call for help. Alcohol was “a factor” in the 3am crash and Sheals was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, driving without a license or insurance, driving while his license was revoked, driving a vehicle with an expired inspection, and [wait for it] a violation of the North Carolina helmet law. As we went to press, Sheals was still in serious condition.

Biker vs. Mattress
Steven J. Konard, 46, the programming director of ESPN-format radio station KSTP-AM, was downed by a mattress “resting” on the left lane of eastbound I-94 in St. Paul, near the Western Avenue exit. The unusual piece of information in this report was that Konard was following a Ford Expedition which was able to swerve to avoid the mattress while Konard, riding a 2004 Yamaha was unable to make that same maneuver. Konard struck the mattress and crashed, sustaining serious injuries. The Expedition’s driver, Michael Denesen, was uninjured and stayed at the scene to assist. The crash occurred in late March and Konard is recovering from his injuries. He was wearing a helmet at the time.

The Cannonball Endurance Run
The Cannonball Endurance Run was named after Erwin “Cannonball” Baker who set a coast-to-coast record in eleven days on an Indian in 1914. This fall, more than 70 die-hard motorcycle fanatics will try to cross the country on pre-1916 motorcycles. The ride starts in Kitty Hawk at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and ends 3,300 miles later in Santa Monica, California. The route planners have provided a route that is “fairly flat” and the 16-day ride is made up of 250 mile-or-less days. Some of the participants are: Shinya Kimura, Hollywood bike builder for the stars; Mike Vils of the TrailBlazers M/C on a 1913 Excelsior; and sculptor Jeff Decker on his 1914 Harley-Davidson. This year’s ride is dedicated to Bud Ekins, one of the most famous motorcyclists and stuntmen in Hollywood history.

AMA Updates
There are twelve members of the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus, since North Carolina Republican Walter B. Jones joined in early June. The bipartisan CMSC is a group of legislators who are also motorcycle enthusiasts and who try to represent the interests of motorcyclists in the US Congress. Although no Minnesota congressional representative has expressed an interest in motorcycling, it would be worth the effort to see if we can encourage them to consider belonging to this group. Write your representative and recommend them to the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus.

Still A Motorcycle Happenin’ Place
Avanstar Communications just published the locations for the 2011 International Motorcycle Shows 12-city tour and Minneapolis is still on the list. Put February 4-6, 2011 on your calendar for the Minneapolis Convention Center. Avanstar’s PR announcement said the 2011 show “will deliver more value than ever before.”

Mike Hailwood Masonic Lodge No. 9839
150 Masons consecrated the new Birmingham, England Masonic Lodge. Yes, it is named the “Mike Hailwood Lodge.” Mike’s son, David Hailwood, will be the honorary “first Initiate” in September. Hailwood amassed 14 Isle of Man wins, 9 world championships, and 76 grand prix wins, and now his name in stone on a Masonic Hall. Wonder what Dan Brown has to say about this motorcycle hero worshiping conspiracy?

Polaris: Made in Mexico?
Polaris News Release: “Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII) today announced plans to realign its operations and refocus on its core strategic manufacturing processes.” The May 20 announcement hoped to ease customers and local supporters into the fact Polaris is planning on “the eventual sale or closure of Polaris’ Osceola, Wisconsin manufacturing operations” and “establishing a new facility in Mexico.” The Polaris announcement described the company’s move as an attempt “to dedicate capital for strategic investments in painting, welding and assembly operations by outsourcing certain non-strategic component manufacturing processes.”

Quoting the press release, “Snowmobile assembly will remain in the Roseau facility and Victory motorcycle assembly will remain in the Company’s Spirit Lake facility. As part of the manufacturing realignment, certain Osceola manufacturing processes will be moved into the Roseau, Spirit Lake and Mexico facilities to more effectively utilize Company resources.”

Local politicians and Osceola residents expressed considerable outrage at the Polaris move. Congressman Dave Obey said, “I am absolutely stunned and outraged by Polaris’ plant closure announcement. . . It’s bad enough that they are eliminating hundreds of jobs in the area, but it’s absolutely outrageous that they are doing it because they are moving to Mexico. They owe better than that to every American who has ever bought their products and they owe better than that to the U.S. taxpayers since millions of taxpayer dollars have been used by the government to purchase their products over the years. I would hope that upon reflection the company would reconsider this outrageously unpatriotic decision.”

The two Polaris plants left in the US (Minnesota and Iowa) are final assembly operations. The Osceola manufacturing operation employs 515 full-time people and the facility produces parts such as engines and components, seats, stampings, and steel tubes. The announcement was well-choreographed, with very few high-level employees knowing about the closing until the official announcement was made. Polaris is making an attempt to find a buyer for the Osceola facility, which could save up to 200 jobs. A follow-up announcement said the Victory Freedom V-Twin engine manufacturing will be moved to the Spirit Lake, Iowa facility.

In the April financial statement, Polaris said sales were up 16% over 2009’s first quarter and net had increased by 127% to $19.8 million, a record high. The company reported $1.6 billion gross sales in 2009.

Biker Bags
Dainese has develped the “D-Air racing suit,” an air-bag system for motorcyclists. This is the same kind of suit that protected most of Valentino Rossi in his recent crash. The system includes 3 gyroscopes, 3 accelerometers, a GPS system, central computer, and it’s all stuffed into an “aerodynamic hump” at the upper back the leather suit. When the rider and the bike separate, the suit takes 0.02 seconds to fully inflate. The suit stays fully inflated for 5 seconds and completely deflates in 20. Currently, the suit is for racing applications only, but Dainese engineers think they will have a suit for the rest of us someday soon.

2010 NHTSA Recalls
Bad Boy Classic LSV, Stretch Low Speed Vehicles made 11/10/09 to 5/24/10: Moisture shorts the accelerator pedal sensor causing unintended acceleration.

2010 CAN-AM Roadster Spyder RS, RT SE5: Clutch on the SE5 semi-automatic transmission fails to disengage causing engine stall and locks up the wheels.


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